TURBOTVILLE — The Warrior Run boys varsity basketball team put an emphatic cap on a strong second half of the regular season with a dominant, 63-43 win over Muncy on Thursday night.
It was Senior Night for the Defenders and fittingly, Warrior Run (13-9) was led by its five upperclassmen on this night just as they have been throughout the 2019-20 campaign.
All five Warrior Run seniors — Denver Beachel, Tyler Pick, Ahmahd Keyes, Kade Anzulavich and Braden Bomberger — started the game and each contributed to the Defenders’ 20-point victory.
“Happy for the kids, happy for Denver tonight and Kade who hit some shots early for us tonight,” Warrior Run head coach Eric Wertman said. “I wasn’t really pleased with the defensive effort in the first half, but I think we played much better in the second half. It’s a nice way to finish (the regular season) and give us some momentum heading into the playoffs.”
The Defenders opened the contest with a furious pace and Beachel knocked down a three on Warrior Run’s first possession to give the home team a lead which it never relinquished. Anzulavich threw down a thunderous two-handed breakaway slam dunk later in the quarter which ignited the student section and gave his team a burst of momentum which it carried to a 23-11 lead at the end of the period. Beachel scored nine points in the first quarter — all on 3-pointers — and Anzulavich added eight.
The teams were even in the second quarter, 10-10, but Warrior Run still held a 12-point advantage at the break, 33-21.
“Something we talk a lot about is toughness and being mentally tough and I think tonight we showed that and jumped on (Muncy) a little bit before halftime,” Wertman said. “Then we made a couple of adjustments on defense and came out and played well in the second half.”
The Defenders stretched the lead to 16 points by the end of the third quarter, thanks again to the long ball. In the period, Beachel knocked down his fifth triple of the game and Anzulavich and Keyes both hit from distance to lift the Defenders to a 48-32 advantage at the end of the frame.
Warrior Run once again used size to its advantage as the Defenders controlled the glass and out-rebounded the Indians, 30-21. The combo of Keyes (6-3), Anzulavich (6-5) and Hartman (6-5) again pounded the boards and forced Muncy into several altered shot attempts over the course of the evening.
“It’s something we work on every day in practice, closing people out (defensively) and rebounding,” Wertman said. “I thought we actually did a poor job of it in the first half and did better in the second half and it’s something we’ll be working hard on next week in practice.”
For Warrior Run, Beachel finished with a game-high 17 points and also added seven assists and six rebounds in another stellar all-around performance. Anzulavich scored 12 points and handed out three assists. Keyes scored 11 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds. Hartman dropped in 14 points and grabbed five rebounds in the victory.
With the victory, which was Warrior Run’s ninth in its past 12 games, the Defenders locked up the No. 6 seed in the District 4 Class 3A playoffs and will travel to No. 3 Mount Carmel next week for a quarterfinal round matchup with the Red Tornadoes.
The 13 regular season victories are the most for the program since 2004 and Wertman commented after the game how much his team believes that they still have a long way to go before the final chapter of this season is written. in fact, Warrior Run’s head coach noted before the season that his team set a goal of winning a District 4 championship and as the playoffs approach, that goal remains unchanged.
“Every guy in that locker room believes we can do it and we as a coaching staff believe we can do it,” Wertman said. “We think we’re coming together at the right time. We went 9-3 down the stretch. We have a lot of work to do in the next week, but we’ll do our work as a team. I believe we’re going to shock some people.”
Warrior Run 63, Muncy 43
at Warrior Run
Warrior Run 23 10 15 15—63Muncy 11 10 11 11—43Warrior Run (13-9) 63
Logan Confer 0 0-0 0; Denver Beachel 6 0-0 17; Mason Sheesley 1 0-0 3; Gabe Hogan 0 2-2 2; Braden Bomberger 0 0-0 0; Nassir Berry 0 0-2 0; Coltin Pentycofe 1 0-0 2; Ethan Hartman 7 0-0 14; Ahmahd Keyes 5 0-0 11; Kade Anzulavich 3 4-5 12; Tyler Pick 1 0-0 2.
24 6-9 63.
Beachel 5, Anzulavich 2, Keyes, Sheesley.
Muncy (7-14) 43
Branson Eyer 4 4-5 13; Conner Sassano 1 0-0 2; Loudon Boring 0 0-0 0; Eli Weikle 1 0-0 3; Max Rymsza 3 0-0 8; Ross Eyer 1 0-0 2; Tanner Gold 2 0-0 6; Cody Duchman 2 1-2 7; Aiden Welch 1 0-0 2.
15 5-7 43.
Duchman 2, Rymsza 2, Gold 3, B. Eyer, Weikle.
JV score: Warrior Run, 66-53. High scorer: Warrior Run, A.J. Bieber 18.